Post 30: Land Observations – The Grand Tour

I’ve been unsure for a while whether to post on Land Observations or not. It’s certainly history related but it wasn’t obvious what I could really add about it when some of my favourite music writers (and the artist himself) have already covered the topic so well. I also feel a bit pretentious and amateurish writing about music, though I’m sure everyone starts out that way. There’s a huge amount of music writing out there: some good, some not so good. In my opinion, some of the best music journalism in recent years has come from the website The Quietus, and it is there that I first read about and heard Land Observations. Funnily enough, it’s also there that inspired me to finally write this post – having just saw an article on their new album (linked at the bottom of this post).

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Post 29: The Greek Myths by Robert Graves

It turns out that Robert Graves, of I, Claudius fame, really likes mushrooms. He also really likes his own form of Good Goddess pagan mysticism.

I generally try to be positive in my blog posts, which is somewhat helped by the fact that I tend to read books or listen to podcasts that I actually enjoy (or at least think I will enjoy). I bought this book in the second hand section at Blackwell’s Bookshop with high (and somewhat naive) expectations – his reputation for historical fiction is well deserved so I was eager to see his factual take on Greek mythology. I had a number of issues with this book – a few of them my fault for not really understanding what the author was attempting to do beforehand, but there were others for which I would pin the blame on the author.

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Post 28: Titanic Belfast

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on this blog but, although I now live in England, I’m originally from Belfast. I was home a few weeks ago and took the time to go to Titanic Belfast, the relatively new tourist attraction down by the old Harland and Wolff docks (with regards to my timing – it took me this long to finish writing up, this is in no way a post-12th piece). Belfast doesn’t usually do tourism well; I do think that it’s a nice place to visit, with plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants to provide a fun day out, but it doesn’t generally make the most of the tourist attractions around the place. There’s the Giant’s Causeway up the coast, the Crown Liquor Saloon and possibly those troubles mural tours or the Bushmills distillery … then you’re a bit stuck.*

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Post 27: Broadsides

The Age of Fighting Sail 1775 – 1815

Book CoverReleased by Nathan Miller way back in 2000, this book gives a general narrative history of one of the big eras in naval warfare – the kind of period populated by Horatio Nelson and Hornblower. I like to try to tie my reviews of different books together for a number of reasons – (selfishly) it might encourage people to read more of my posts, and (usefully) it provides a frame of reference for me to judge various aspects of the book. In this case, my reference point will be Pirates of Barbary by Adrian Tinniswood. That was a quick and exciting romp through some of the figures, places and events of the 17th century Barbary coast. This is a slightly more subdued (but still populist) trek through naval warfare at the turn of the 18th century.

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Post 26: Havant Heritage Trail

St Faith's ChurchThis is a bit of a shorter and less thought out post than usual but I was in Havant near Portsmouth recently for work and, on my way back to the train station, noticed one of those blue plaques you see about the place – the ones that mark places of historical significance. That’s interesting, I thought, I didn’t think Havant would have an exciting past. It seemed like a fairly run of the mill satellite town to a provincial city. The plaque was outside an old church, and not a bad looking one at that (although not quite as atmospherically lit as the photo here, it was a slightly overcast afternoon) but there’s nothing too remarkable in it (England really is spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful old buildings).

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